WITH the table tightening up midway through the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys season, it is difficult to pick the game of the round. Three out of five of Round 5’s games will be played between teams exclusively within the top-eight. Bulleen Boomers host Dandenong Rangers, Kilsyth Cobras face Melbourne Tigers and Nunawading Spectres go head-to-head against Keilor Thunder. With the top three tied on 10 wins apiece, the results of this could possibly put a new team atop the table.
Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 10-1-2) vs Melbourne Tigers (5th, 8-5)
Kilsyth Cobras hope to re-join the winners list when they come up against Melbourne Tigers at home this week. Last week, the Cobras picked up their second draw for the season against an in-form, Dandenong Rangers. They remain atop the table but have given Bulleen and Nunawading space to press as they both pick up wins to equalise. Comparatively, the Tigers have weathered an easier fixture in recent weeks, snaring consecutive wins against Diamond Valley and Bendigo to hold in fifth at the end of last round. Back on the road again, it’s unlikely Melbourne’s away record will stand up to the league-leaders. For the Cobras, Josh Duach has been in an impressive form with 14.5 points per game (PPG) – moving into seventh on the league scoring list, while Liam Croney (10.3) sits in eighteenth spot from four games. Jordan Adams has been Melbourne’s biggest asset, averaging 12.3 PPG from four games in the Championship Division, with Lyzel Mataika following close on 11.8.
Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 10-3) vs Dandenong Rangers (4th, 9-3-1)
Like the last, this game also looks difficult to pick, with the Bulleen Boomers hosting Dandenong Rangers at Mullum Mullum. Last week, Dandenong came close to rising in the top-four, but instead tied, ending their five game win streak. As of now, the Boomers hold the greatest streak in the competition with four consecutive in the Championship Division. They are also yet to lose a game at home, boasting a 5-0-0 record. Bulleen should look to utilise their star shooter in Owen Foxwell, who sits fourth for overall league scoring. Anthony Dell’Orso is close behind for the Boomers in sixth, averaging 15 PPG. For Dandenong, Riley Simmons leads scoring with 13.3 PPG, followed close by Harrison Bowater on 12. Mason Perry will also look to back up last week’s 15-point performance for the Rangers, while Otto Mananov’s 12 points was also a feature last week for the Boomers.
Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 10-3) vs Keilor Thunder (6th, 8-5)
Nunawading Spectres look to snare their third consecutive win when they face Keilor Thunder this week. The Thunder have gradually slipped down the table, following losses to top-four contenders in Bulleen and Dandenong. A loss this week could potentially send them out of the eight, while Nunawading threaten for the top spot. Though its possible that the Spectres receive a reality check this week, after snaring wins from bottom-end sides in Bendigo and Diamond Valley. Despite having loss two consecutive, the Thunder have presented a real scoring threat in Paul Tsapatolis (19 PPG), while Tonga Matapule Otutaha presented strong with 10 points in last round’s clash with the Boomers. On the Spectres’ end, James Roche has been immense, averaging 18.8 PPG in third for league scoring, while Curtis Brecko boasts 11th spot with 12.8 PPG.
Werribee Devils (10th, 7-6) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (9th, 7-6)
Though not in the eight, the clash between the Werribee Devils and Diamond Valley Eagles looks to be a good one. Diamond Valley are yet to snare a win in the Championship division and have gradually slipped out of the top eight as a result. Contrastingly, the Devils look to be on the rise, pushing into tenth spot following a win over the Wildcats last round. A win for either side could see them launch back inside the eight, as both only sit one win under sixth spot. The Devils have shown great scorers in Makur Jongkuch (15 PPG) and Darrien Herbert (13.5), who sit sixth and ninth respectively on the league scoring ladder. For the Eagles, Ethan Bateman has put together a few good games in the Championship Division, averaging 12 PPG, with Erik Kafritsas following next on 9.5.
Bendigo Braves (14th, 6-6-1) vs Korumburra Wildcats (12th, 6-7)
Bendigo Braves host Korumburra Wildcats this week for a chance to snare their second win in the newly established Championship Division. Korumburra are in a similar position, having lost their last two. Both sides present a real chance to slip further down the table with a poor result, but somehow still only sit one win outside the top-eight. Regardless of their results, the Braves boast the top league scorer in Caleb Connick, who averages 19.5 PPG and receives decent scoring support from Isaac Murphy (10). For the Wildcats, Keith Robinson has been similarly impressive, sharing top spot with Connick over the last two months before landing in second with 18.8 PPG. The Wildcats also have Luis D’Angelo (11.8) putting up solid numbers to keep them competing.